Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Breakfast of Champions

Like most American children, I was a habitual cereal eater. My mom new better than to pay out the extra cash for a box of brand-name sugar (Lucky Charms, anyone?), but our cabinet was full of square cardboard boxes that supposedly contained healthy food. They had all the colorful squares, circles, and leaping humanoid shapes that announced high fiber, heart health, or vitamin fortified. I'm not sure what any of that means anymore, but at least the mom's of my generation were trying.

I found from the beginning of my raw journey that grains were not appealing. I don't miss wheat, rice, or corn (unless you mean fresh corn on the cob). It's interesting to think about the number of grains I could have been eating my whole life, like rye, barleyt, kamut, spelt, teff, or amaranth, except for the monotony of the standard american diet. Why is it that nearly all breads are made from wheat, even the ones that advertise the other grains as part of the reason you should buy them? You would think that when buying barley or rye bread the bread would be made from rye flour, instead of wheat flour with a few handfuls of rye and carraway thrown in for flavor?

And then I discovered Buckwheat. Different from wheat berries or rice berries, the raw buckwheat groat can be eaten without soaking. It's a little crunchy, but it tastes good and isn't difficult to chew. It also softens easily in water, with a sweet mild taste. It sprouts in only a day or so, growing a little white tail that shouts "Eat me! I'm delicious!"

Sprouted buckwheat is one of my favorite meals.
At first I thought I liked buckwheat cereal so much because it reminds of what my mom used to give me for breakfast. I don't care for any other grain - so why buckwheat?

As it turns out buckwheat isn't a grain - ha! Its actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel.Buckwheat used to be quite popular in the US, until the advent of modern agriculture in the 1950's shrank U.S. crops from 1 million acres to 50,000 acres in the 1960's.

Buckwheat is thought to have originated in central and western China. Yes, the Chinese at one time ate a greater variety of grains than rice. They might still eat a variety of grains, but since I haven't been to China I couldn't say.

So why should we eat buckwheat? For one, recent studies show that eating buckwheat lowers blood glucose levels in animals with type 1 diabetes and may lower the risk of developing diabetes. Canadian researchers published a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showing that the compound chiro-inositol in buckwheat appears to increase sensitivity to insulin and even act as an insulin mimic. While this study was conducted on animals, which I don't condone, it does give me an excuse to sing the praises of my raw buckwheat breakfast to my newly diabetic father, who has been told not to eat carbohydrates. Who knew? Raw whole grains could have positive effects on glucose levels. Maybe not all carbs are created equal.

Buckwheat is also a great source of flavonoids, especially the nutrient called rutin. Rutin is sometimes used in home remedies as an anti-inflammatory for people who suffer from hemmorhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, varicose veins, and other problems with the cardiovascular system.

Buckwheat is one of the highest sources of magnesium, packing 86 milligrams a cup. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow, lowering blood pressur. To my lady friends: Have you ever craved a chocolate bar during your cycle? It's not only the comfort of chocolate and theobromine your body's craving, its magnesium. So maybe next time you get the full moon munchies, pass on the guilt of a chocolate bar and go for a nice bowl of buckwheat.
It's cheap too, my co-op carries it for $1.29 a pound.

For more info on buckwheat, follow this link: www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=11#nutritionalprofile

Or do your own research and tell me what you find out!

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